Xianzi Dance of Yi Ethnic Minority in Yanshan County, Wenshan


Yanshan County (砚山县)is the “hometown of Yi’s Xianzi Dance”(弦子舞之乡) in Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture(文山壮族苗族自治州), Yunnan Province. The Yi people here have been dancing in strings since ancient times. They have been enduring for thousands of years and have become an indispensable content of life for the local Yi people. 

Xianzi dance gets its name from the accompaniment of strings, the player led the dance as he played, with the men and women arm in arm or fork waist, fork hand dance together. The movement is generous, the rhythm is bright, the whole body swings and beats with the string rhythm surface different amplitude, its step and the string rhythm coordination and harmony, has the charm and the characteristic.

Heiyudong Village

Heiyudong Village(黑鱼洞村) of Yanshan County has been the most important place of Xianzi Dance, which is still intimately related to everyone’s daily lives, Which brought about the saying of “courting while money to a Xianzi for festivity.” Among the 244 Yi dwelled families, 22 troupes are constituted by old and young, and everyone in between who liked singing or dancing. They inherited and improved dancing to the Xianzi under Lights which was selected as an intangible cultural heritage of the Wenshan Zhuang and Autonomous prefecture. Competitions such as Xianzi dance(弦子舞) and the Jinqianbang have won provincial and county level awards.

Dance in the Torch Festival

On the eve of Torch Festival(火把节), Yi people working outside of village return home to reunite with their families. When night falls, bonfires were lit ablaze with roaring flames in the village, at the entrance of the stockade and in the square. Residents from nearby villages also come to the square at Heiyudong Village and so begin a night with singing and dancing. Happy laughters and cheerful voices are heard all over. Strangers from afar are warmly welcomed by the Yi. The darkening night ushers in the climax of the carnival, comes the most touching and romantic moments. Young people will seek their ideal mate and express their feelings through the dance of Xianzi. 

Chinese Version: http://www.yizuren.com/social/yxfz/34486.html

Translated by Bella Ren/任新月